Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Review: La Mala Educación

I know I'm supposed to be on a blogging hiatus and everything but because of the goals that I set for myself this year, I had to take a little break to talk about some movies I saw. In my idle time, I was counting how many films I've seen since my last review* and I realized I had to start writing or else I might have to post fifty reviews all at once. So anyway, here's me breaking away from my little hiatus to bring you a couple of movie reviews.

La Mala Educación (Bad Education)
Released: March 19, 2004 (Spain), September 5, 2004 (US)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥
[official website] [wiki] [imdb] 

I first heard of Bad Education back in 2005* and I ultimately dismissed it as yet another gay European film. I posted a picture of the lead actor, Gael García Bernal, in drag and back then, I didn't feel like it was a serious movie so I didn't bother looking for it. Four years later, a friend lends me his copy and I finally get the chance to see it. I was surprised to see that there's more to the story than just gay Europeans flailing about. It tells the story of Enrique and Ignacio, two boys who met and fell in love in school only to be separated by a gay priest. Seems like a mouthful but considering that the movie was ambitious enough to include several controversial themes such as gay priests, drug abuse, transexuality, betrayal, blackmail, child abuse in the Catholic church and murder, the last statement barely scratched the surface.

Bernal is a great actor, that much is clear. Anyone who's seen Y Tu Mamá También, El Crimen del Padre Amaro or the Che Guevarra biopic Motorcycle Diaries can attest to that. I just never saw how brilliant he truly is until I saw this movie. He plays Juan, an ambitious actor who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. The character was actually patterned after Tom Ripley who was extremely evil but had an angelic face. He really stretches his acting muscles in this movie, proving to everyone just how flexible an actor he can be.

As my first Almodóvar film, I must admit I expected a lot. He is known as one of the most succesful Spanish filmmakers and just like Madonna, he's so cool he only needs one name. Many cinema freaks swear by him as much as I love Wong Kar Wai. I was amazed at how brilliantly he was able to execute the movie despite the fact that it was very complicated and that he usually works with a predominantly female cast (this movie was a first for him because most of the characters were men). He worked on this story for an entire decade and anyone who sees this movie can attest that those years were not spent in vain.

It's a story that will have you hooked from beginning to end. The film in itself is very suspenseful and thought-provoking. If you're a fan of foreign cinema or murder mysteries, this is definitely a worthy see. 4/5.

Monsters vs. Aliens. I saw this movie alone (because no one wants to watch cartoons anymore. Boo.) and I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters were extremely adorable and the plot had me hooked from the first frame. My favorite monster has got to be B.O.B. (voiced by Seth Rogen of Knocked Up fame), a huge Jell-o figure that was created when a genetically-altered tomato was injected with this weird salad dressing. He was so adorable, I think I might just see this again when it comes out on DVD.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I'm not a huge fan of How I Met Your Mother but I must admit that whenever I catch it on TV, I find myself hooked. This movie was written and starred by Jason Segel (who plays Marshall in HIMYM) and tells the story of a guy who just lost his girlfriend of five years to an annoying British rock star. It was pretty funny although I was a bit disturbed by the large amount of male nudity in the film. It's almost like Segel flashed the audience every chance he got. There's a scene at the end of the film where authentic Muppets act and sing out Dracula's story. In the DVD's special features, it is revealed that Segel came up with the concept when he was in his early twenties. Talk about screwed up. That scene alone is well worth the price of admission.

 Fast & Furious. This is the fourth movie of the Fast and the Furious franchise and supposedly takes place between the second and third movie. I was a little curious because it's pretty rare to see a movie's original cast all coming back to reprise their roles (especially when they weren't part of the other sequels). I remember I really liked the first movie. It was like this generation's version of The Godfather. The fourth installment was incredibly disappointing. The scenes seemed forced, the car scenes barely exhilarating and the plot mundane and a bit preposterous. You can't pay me to see this movie again.

Beauty Shop. Disclaimer: I did not set out to watch this movie. I was watching Velvet and it suddenly came on and before I knew it, the end credits were rolling. I actually sat through the whole thing! Queen Latifah is always a pleasure onscreen although it must be said that it wasn't the story that got me hooked. It was the fact that they were trying so hard to send out a message that African Americans are strong and hard-working and all that but at the same time, they engaged in racial stereotypes and at certain points seemed a little racist (to the white characters). The movie's not going to win any Oscars soon but seeing Alicia Silverstone with a fake southern accent dropping it like 'it's hot' is enough to keep you in stitches for weeks (for all the wrong reasons, of course).

The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela. Carlo made me see this movie and I initially thought it was a quirky little indie film about a tranny (or a gay Ai-Ai film). Much to my surprise, the film was actually a documentary. They say the best movies are the ones that take you on a journey and this movie does that and more. You get to walk in the (fierce) shoes of Queen Raquela, a tranny from Cebu as she sees the world in search for her ever beloved Paris. The film won many awards and I must say they really deserved it. Not only did it show such a unique Filipino sub-culture, it also explored the economics and emotions that go into the webcam flesh trade.

So that's all for today. I'm quite tired. I'm currently stuck in the procrastination phase of my writing so once I finish cleaning my room and sorting my clothes, I'll probably post something fresh here.